Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Helena Rodriguez
PORTALES—Enrollment in Eastern New MexicoUniversity's chemistry graduate program has increased by over 300percent since the fall of 2000, according to Dr. Juchao Yan, assistantprofessor of chemistry. More than half of these graduate students arefrom other countries.
Major universities across thecountry have seen a significant decline in international studentsfollowing Sept. 11, 2001, due to new laws making it harder for foreignstudents to get visas. However, the number of international students inENMU's graduate chemistry program has grown from two in the fall of2000 to nine in 2003, with most of the students being from India andAfrican countries.
"These students bring adiversity of opinions to ENMU's graduate program," Dr. Yan said. "Thereason why Eastern is drawing international students is because ourprograms are designed to satisfy a student's interest and because ofour unique location and reasonable cost of living in Portales," Dr. Yanpointed out.
Loubna Jebbanema, originallyfrom Morocco, came to ENMU because she heard through word-of-mouth ofENMU's good chemistry program. "I've been in New Mexico awhile. I havea brother who works at the national lab in Los Alamos and many peopleworking there attended ENMU," she said. "That's why I came. I want topursue a career in industrial chemistry. The school is also veryaffordable," she said. Ms. Jebbanema is planning to complete hermaster's in May of 2005.
Another international student,Daniel Dei of Ghana, an independent country in West Africa, said hecame to school in the United States because he wants to be exposed to anew culture and to also take advantage of more advanced facilities andresearch opportunities here. "Back home, we are encouraged to go intothe sciences. The motivation and challenge is to study sicknesses andthe research opportunities here are more beneficial."
Federal research grants, suchas the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National ScienceFoundation (NSF), is helping ENMU to purchase needed equipment for itssciences programs as well as recruit more minority students. Dr. Yansaid that while most students from India are coming with degrees inpharmacy, many are realizing the future is in chemistry so they arepursuing advanced degrees in chemistry. "Chemistry is the centralscience," he said. In fact, he said that one graduate student iscurrently researching nanomaterials and is trying to get a review paperpublished in a chemistry magazine.
Dr. Yan will start his thirdyear of teaching at ENMU in the fall of 2004 and is monitoring theinternational student enrollment in the chemistry graduate program.According to the April 5 issue of Chemical& Engineering Newsmagazine, 58 percent of schools responding to a survey indicated thatthe impact of visa delays on their overall chemistry program has beenminimal. However, schools expected to be the hardest hit by foreignapplication declines are the schools with small graduate programs thatare more heavily populated by foreign students, such as ENMU.
As for the one-third of theschools that reported in the survey that they have been impacted by thedecline in international students, they say the decline hasdramatically affected individual students and their research andseveral schools have estimated monetary losses ranging from severalthousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Dr. Yan is thankfulthat while the international student enrollment at ENMU has decreased,it has not affected the chemistry program. While some internationalstudents at ENMU are majoring in other disciplines such ascommunications, Dr. Yan said the majority of international graduatestudents are going into science and engineering.